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Keywords:

  • implantable cardioverter defibrillator;
  • shock;
  • shock anxiety;
  • tachyarrhythmia

Background: Shock anxiety has been documented irrespective of shock exposure in implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) recipients. The presence of tachyarrhythmia may lead to an anticipation of receiving a shock and thereby give rise to shock anxiety. The aims were to assess: (1) the level of shock anxiety in a sample of ICD recipients, (2) the relationship between such anxiety and shock exposure, and (3) the relationship between recent tachyarrhythmia and shock anxiety.

Methods: ICD recipients (n = 167) completed the Florida Shock Anxiety Scale measure of shock anxiety. The recipients were divided into three groups: (1) Recipients with no documented tachyarrhythmia over the previous 12 months (n = 56), (2) recipients with documented tachyarrhythmia over the previous twelve months (n = 54), and (3) recipients with any history of shocks (n = 57).

Results: Of the recipients, 44% experienced some form of shock anxiety, whereas 15% reported general shock anxiety. Analyses of covariance revealed that recipients with recent tachyarrhythmia (F = 7.675 df = 9/100, P = 0.007) as well as recipients with a shock history (F = 9.976, df = 9/103, P = 0.002) reported higher levels of shock anxiety than recipients with no recent tachyarrhythmia.

Conclusion: This study indicates that although a substantial proportion of the ICD recipients experienced some form of shock anxiety, only a relatively small proportion reported general shock anxiety. ICD recipients with recent tachyarrhythmia, in addition to recipients with shock history, appear to be at greater risk for development of shock anxiety. This implies that these recipients may profit from clinical-based strategies and interventions targeting shock anxiety (PACE 2012; 35:1369–1376)